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Spotlight on Yesterday’s TV

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: October 01, 2009

The sinister Mr Boris Karloff.

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BEFORE we let Alan Keeling bring us another instalment of Yesterday’s TV, we’ve had a letter from Mr I.

Hackett of Rowley Regis who writes: “With reference to ‘Ramar of the Jungle’ in Bugle 890, I remember the programme well because it mentioned Jon Hall who was a favourite of mine in films back then. I often wondered whether he’d been considered for the role of Tarzan because of his fine physique. Another favourite of mine was ‘Hurricane’ (1937) and I’ve collected a bit of trivia about him which some readers might find interesting. He was born Charles Hall Locker in February 1915 (I think his father was a skating champion) and his mother was a Tahitian princess.

He was considered for the role of Flash Gordon, but that part eventually went to Buster Crabbe.

Sadly he committed suicide at the age of 64 in 1979 when he discovered he had cancer. I love the old TV, so keep them rolling Alan!” This week Alan has dug deep into his TV memorabilia collection to remember Boris Karloff in two shows, ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Thriller’.

“Out of this World was a British-made science fiction anthology series, made on videotape by ABC TV. The 13 one-hour dramas were hosted by the master of the macabre, Boris Karloff, and among the shows’ writers were Terry Nation (Dr Who), Leon Griffiths and Isaac Asimov. The pilot episode was entitled ‘Dumb Martian’ and starred Ray Barrett and William Lucas. It was screened as part of ‘Armchair Theatre’ on a Sunday night in mid-June 1962 as a curtain-raiser for the rest of the series which began late in the evening on Saturday nights from June 30th.

“Produced by Leonard White, the series covered different styles and moods of science fiction, not forgetting a healthy slice of murder and mystery.

The following are a few of the actors who appeared on a regular basis; Jane Asher, Ronald Fraser, Patrick Allen, Milo O’Shea and Peter Wyngarde. The Americans seemed to like it and it was bought for US TV broadcast in 1963.

“Before ‘Out of this World’, Boris Karloff was the host and occasional actor in the American TV horror anthology series ‘Thriller’ (Not to be confused with an early 1970s ATV series of the same name).The production was by Revue (Universal), with the series similar in style to ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’.

Sixty-seven monochrome hour-long episodes were made between 1960 and 1962, and the actors who made an appearance included Leslie Neilson, William Shatner, Kenneth Haigh, Robert Vaughan, Hazel Court, Ron Ely, and of course Boris Karloff who played various sinister characters.

“In Britain the programme was broadcast in several ITV regions during the mid-sixties, but didn’t come to the Midlands until this classic series was rejuvenated by Channel 4 in the early 1980s.”

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